It was that time of year again when I dig out the parka, the longjohns, the sweaters and gloves and go home to the Bronx to visit the family. I wanted to make this partly a research expedition and hit a few highly rated pizzerias...
The first was John & Joe's in Morris Park. While not far from where I grew up, this was my first time there. A nice, throwback kind of place, nostalgic pictures on the wall, and John himself was at the helm. I ordered a slice of Sicilian and Jessica got the white slice. The Sicilian was a perfect rendition of what I remembered growing up: crisp bottom, generous amount of cheese, sweet sauce. It wasn't too oily and the texture of the dough was fantastic. I tasted the sauce separately and it was a nice simple, sweet canned tomato with a little basil. It tasted very much like the Cento San Marzano's I use at home.
The white slice was a bit more peculiar. A giant slice, of course, but the crust made me curious. It had a powdery consistency or feel to it. And not powdery in the sense that there was too much bench flour, but just a dry, flaky, powdery texture. Also I noticed the “scales” on the crust. Did the dry air of winter cause a skin to develop on his proofing dough? I imagine folks on this site can provide a better guess than I can. Nonetheless, it wasn't the moist, chewy dough that I was used to, but a pretty good slice. I only spoke with him a little bit since he was pretty busy with a healthy walk-up and delivery business that weekday. When I asked about the differences between his regular slice and Sicilian, he said that they use a different sauce. That seemed strange, but he wouldn't provide any more clues. I think he was a bit guarded about his methods, not knowing who I was.